Each of these paintings was perfect when I finished it. But, inevitably, whenever a deadline approaches for a competitive contest I look at that same painting in a whole new light and wonder what I was thinking. This has taught me (has many art teachers through the years have reminded me) that you have to really push yourself and not be content with an "ok" piece. It's nice to get take some time off to gain a bit of space and perspective before jumping back in. This is amazingly easy (well, comparitively) with digital media. I've even photographed an oil painting that i've done, opened it in photoshop to edit: changing colors, moving pixels around, and painting additional details. Azrael (seen above) is an example of this technique. It's difficult to be your own critic all the time and often it can be helpful to get other people's options; both laypeople and fellow artists.
Muddy Colors, a blog run by professional illustrators, is running it's second Crit-Submit where they pick one piece and paint over it to show you how it can be taken further. This crit-submit has closed on Aug 20th, but they will run more. Keep an eye out to see their results.
Please comment below on what you're favorite versions of each piece are! I'd really appreciate your opinions.